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Paris Murals, June 2018


Paris Murals
June 2018



Banksy was in Paris around World Refugee Day (20 June 2018) and against the backdrop of Paris Fashion Week which introduced collaborations between high fashion brands and well-known artists (Dior partnered with KAWS and Louis Vuitton with Takashi Murakami).
At that occasion, Banksy left France with a few poignant murals, with strong political messages. They take aim at the French government, especially with reference to what was seen as their poor management of the migrant situation.
Banksy also published a drawing on his Instagram on 18 June 2018.

“I had planned to paint this on a wall, but ended up thinking it was more of a cartoon.  So here it is – as a cartoon.”



Bataclan Tribute


This mural, located on the exit fire door of the Bataclan Theater in Paris portrays a mysterious veiled and mournful female figure. This stencil carries a very strong symbolic as it is this exact exit door where victims of a terrorist attack tried to escape a mass shooting that happened on 13 November 2015, leaving 89 dead and over 300 injured.

Painted on the black background of the exit door, a white stencil features a woman with a lace veil, which gives a mystical and protective aura like a Madonna. Her face is inspired by a marble sculpture by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Lombardi from 1869.


Giovanni Batista Lombardi, 1869
She is dressed in a uniform , reminiscent of the rescuers that did everything to save the victims that night. The mourning woman is holding some files in one hand, maybe the victims reports and a delicate lace handkerchief on the other.
Using just a monochrome stencil, Banksy creates a strong moving memorial to the victims of terrorism in Paris, as well as a big up to the rescuer teams. This artwork, which appeared on a fire door, mysteriously disappeared in 2019. It was recovered in Italy one year later…

Migrant’s Soup Kitchen


Migrant’s Soup Kitchen was realized near the Porte de la Chapelle metro station, where Paris’ refugee centre “La Bulle” was located until August 2017. A city within a city, it was home to a makeshift camp of some 2,700 refugees and was dismantled an estimated 35 times before 2,000 migrants were bussed to temporary shelters. This was done as part of Emmanuel Macron’s wish to remove the refugees “off the streets, out of the woods” as stated during his campaign.
With this in mind, Banksy revisited his “Go Flock Yourself” piece from 2008, and created a new version as commentary on the current political situation in France and throughout Europe. Depicting a black girl painting a Victorian wallpaper pattern over a swastika, the artist is commenting on the way politicians are concealing wrongdoing and potentially fascist policies.
Go Flock Yourself, spray-paint on canvas, 2008

Liberte, Egalite, Cable TV

Probably one of the most provocative murals in the series, Liberte, Egalite, Cable TV, is a reinterpretation of the famous historical painting by Jacques-Louis David, “Napoleon Crossing the Alps”. This painting is a canon of art history in France representing Napoleon on his war horse conquering Europe, a true symbol of power and influence…
In Banksy‘s version, Napoleon is sitting on his horse with a long red cape covering him completely. The title Banksy gave it on his Instagram account is equally evocative and deep. This mural appears in a neighborhood with a large immigrant population.


By covering the rider with his own cape, Banksy is commenting on the current misguided way the government is leading the country, blinding people with propaganda and false promises. The red cape might also reference the country’s so-called “Burka Ban” which was introduced by the French government in 2010. The law prohibited the covering of the face in public, including with religious garments such as the full burka or niqabs worn by some female Muslims.

Man with Dog


Found in the premises of the Sorbonne University, Man with Dog is kind of self-explanatory. It portrays a man, probably the dog’s master, offering a “treat” to a dog, while concealing a weapon that could be used to kill it. Banksy intends to illustrate what most governments tend to do in the context of their migration policies.
Upon closer examination, the viewer might notice the dog is missing a bone himself, it seems it is being offered his own bone as a treat…

Rats Invasion

Banksy also left a few Rat Murals, maybe to pay homage to Blek Le Rat who is considered as one of the earliest stencil artists, and who is said to have had a great influence on the work of the artist. Banksy‘s comments on his Instagram accompanying the pictures of those rats also confirm that they pay homage to the 50th anniversary of May 1968.
May 1968 in France was a volatile period of civil unrest. With over ten million workers on strike, its youth demonstrating in the streets, all its public services at a standstill, the French Government faced a major social crisis. It temporarily ceased to function… marking an historic uprising against capitalism and consumerism. No wonder Banksy is in Paris to celebrate…